The night sky was lit up above the Black Country Living Museum as it held a bostin’ celebration of the region’s industrial heritage.
The landmark Dudley-based attraction stayed open after hours with performers entertaining more than 2,000 visitors until late Saturday evening for its annual Red by Night event.
Street theatre, live industrial demonstrations, glass blowing, chemistry workshops and fire breathers combined to bring the past to life.
The name of the event is inspired by the description of the Black Country given by American diplomat and travel writer Elihu Burritt. During a visit to the region in 1868 he famously said it was ‘black by day and red by night’.
He witnessed coal-fired furnaces and collieries spread thick black smoke during the day and let off a fiery red glow throughout the night as men, women and often children worked around the clock to supply the world with everything from chains to glass.
As part of the European annual Museums at Night festival, Saturday’s event aimed to recreate the distinctive glow described by Burritt.
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A full scale replica of the world’s very first successful steam engine, the Newcomen, was fired up, while re-enactors will put on live demonstrations, using centuries-old techniques to forge chains, nails and brass.
The Performing Arts Department at Dudley College put on light projections and poets and musicians entertained the crowds at the museum’s coal mine and worker’s institute. Former Walsall Poet Laureate, Ian Henery, who acted as compere on the night, said: “It was absolutely fantastic.
“The atmosphere was brilliant and a great time was had by all. Everyone who I have spoken to has given really good reports.
“People talk about big festivals and big concerts. It is alright to go to Glastonbury and Leeds and the rest of them but right here is the Black Country Living Museum which is about our heritage and about our past.”